Freedom Flotilla II, and Israel’s attempts to thwart it through outrageous acts of intimidation, lies, threats of violence, and sabotage, has reminded the world that the criminal blockade on the Gaza Strip is still in force, depriving Palestinian civilians of their basic rights.
Channel 4’s film addressed a crime of omission as well — the failure of the international community to effectively protest against the treatment of civilians in the closing stages of the civil war. It began with the withdrawal of the United Nations from Kilinochchi, the Tamil capital in the north, after the Sri Lankan government had announced that it could no longer guarantee the safety of the UN mission, a move interpreted here as a premeditated plan to remove inconvenient witnesses. What followed was a lethal kind of kettling, as Tamil civilians found themselves squeezed between the ruthlessness of their own soldiers (who weren’t above using them as a human shield) and the aggression of the Sri Lankan army. The “no fire zones” turned out to be a bloody joke, being repeatedly shelled. And the Tamils’ makeshift hospitals were hit so frequently that they eventually asked the Red Cross not to pass on their GPS co-ordinates to the other side, fearing that they were being used for targeting rather than avoidance.
On June 30, QE2 ended with a whimper. The Fed’s second round of “quantitative easing” involved $600 billion created with a computer keystroke for the purchase of long-term government bonds. But the government never actually got the money, which went straight into the reserve accounts of banks, where it still sits today. Worse, it went into the reserve accounts of FOREIGN banks, on which the Federal Reserve is now paying 0.25% interest.